A new algorithm may allow faster and less expensive detection of nuclear materials at borders. In addition, the algorithm can differentiate between benign and illicit radiation in the same charge.
"We hope the findings will be useful in reducing false positives on radiation monitors, even in scenarios with multiple sources present, and allow the use of economical detectors, such as organic scintillators," says Angela DiFulvio, corresponding author of the study. published in April in Nature Scientific Reports.
This innovation could be important to prevent the smuggling of nuclear material, which can be used for terrorist purposes. Thus, with greater efficiency and less cost, this algorithm can help to detect dangerous nuclear material.
According to Futurity, the algorithm can identify weak radiation signals, such as those seen in materials coated with plutonium, which absorbs radiation. Researchers believe it can be used at borders to control the entry or exit of radioactive material.
"There is also a concern that someone may mask a radioactive source, or special nuclear material, using naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as granite or cat sand," explains the study's lead author, Sara Pozzi.
“As vehicles or boxes are examined, the detector data can be run on these algorithms that differentiate between different sources. The algorithms can quickly identify whether special nuclear materials are present, ”he added.
What happens is that the smuggled nuclear material is often hidden in the middle of benign radiation sources, in order to try to deceive the detectors. This type of material can be used to make atomic bombs, which is why little care is required.